I’ve published (or will soon have published) six pieces over the last year of full-time writing, but the lyric essay – “A Nature Lover’s Phobia” – posted online in Fringe Magazine: The Environment Issue yesterday makes me particularly happy.
I have wanted to be a nature writer since childhood. I thought becoming a zoologist would lead me there. But I didn’t become a zoologist. I took a thirty year detour through cultural anthropology, Marxist and feminist theory, single parenting, non-profit administration, and teaching high school social studies. Working on my book on Nepal, I still think of myself as an ethnographer – a chronicler of culture, not nature.
Of course, I often try to show the complicated threads that shape human experience of our physical nature, cultivated nature, and wildness. But publishing a piece viewed as a literary perspective on the environment allows me to indulge some childhood fantasies and also see my way towards a future of more nature writing (although it will probably always have a cultural twist; that’s the anthropologist in me).
The Environment Issue of Fringe Magazine includes provocative writing by S. Asher Sund, Rick Andrews, Joseph Scapellato, Amy Letter, Molly Gaudry and photographs by Diane Parisella-Katris. I was especially moved by Lizzie Stark’s audio interview with Kelly McMasters about Welcome to Shirley - her memoir of growing up near a Long Island nuclear plant.
If you’re interested in more of my “nature’ writing, you can read “Looking for Black Gibbons” online and get yourself a print copy of the Spring 2009 volume of the Gettysburg Review with my essay on natural childbirth in Nepal.